The Championship side tested Brighton in the early exchanges but the Seagulls took the lead against the run of play through Pascal Gross on 20 minutes.
Norwich levelled through Marley Watkins just before half-time and it was the Canaries who went closest to a winner in the second half when Nelson Oliveira's 25-yarder cannoned off a post.
Albion's unbeaten run in pre-season continued and Hughton said: "It was a tough run out. What we always thought was that if you put the pre-season games into two halves, we knew we were going up a level now.
"They are a very good side playing a different system. We knew we were coming into a game that was going to be a bigger test for us and it showed.
"We needed to be better on the ball. Generally we were quite solid against a very expansive team but we needed to be a little bit better on the ball."
With the season opener against Manchester City two weeks away, Hughton admits he is getting closer to his starting 11: "We're always going to be closer the nearer you get to that first game. We've got two games left and we want to start getting some principles and patterns into the team.
"But, as always, we're still hoping to add to the squad in whichever period we can."
Albion are away to newly-promoted La Liga side Girona on Tuesday, before hosting Atletico Madrid next Sunday and Hughton said: "The opposition almost doesn't come any tougher than our last game against Atletico Madrid and Girona is a team, like ourselves, who got promotion.
"Again, it's another tough one away from home, it's a different atmosphere. It's the reason why we took the game and again it will be a real high level game."
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